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Six reasons why we need to move beyond interfaith dialogue

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Six reasons why we need to move beyond interfaith dialogue if we are serious about redress for victims of violence based on religion or belief

On International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, Mariz Tadros, Director of the Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development reflects on why we need to move on from high-level interfaith dialogue initiatives to address the urgent and daily instances of violence and discrimination faced by religious minorities all over the world.

In a recent conversation with a global religious leader who has participated in countless interfaith dialogues, I asked, given his many decades’ experience, if he had any examples of a dialogue across religions which has directly contributed to the easing of communal tensions or at least towards the creation of an infrastructure for responsiveness or resolution to such tensions. He could not think of any but added reflectively “they create amicable relations, even friendships on an individual level, but they have no impact on the ground”. This thought piece is purposely abstract because the intention is not to point the finger at a particular interfaith dialogue.

In calling for a moratorium on interfaith dialogue, the aim is not to diminish or sideline the central role of religious leaders in forging an environment conducive to religious liberty. Nor is it to be disrespectful towards the genuine intentions of those who want to forge bridges across religions, cultures and beliefs.

Rather, it is a plea to stop wasting time, effort and financial resources in convening  fancy, expensive interfaith dialogues, round-tables and conferences where religious leaders explain how their respective religions are all peace-loving, how they are all bound by a common ‘fraternity’, and where they sign yet another declaration committing to loving each other- in front of the cameras of course.

Don’t get me wrong, if we are serious about championing the rights of victim of violence on religion or belief religious leaders need to be involved, but on different terms altogether.


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